Color. It’s such a part of our lives that we don’t even think about it in a general sense. But boy, do we feel it! It’s so much a part of our world and has such an impact on our psyche that dozens of studies have been done on the effects it has on our behavior. Green and aquamarine hues at medical offices are known to calm us. Yellow can make us happy. Red energizes and fires up our engines. Ask retail outlets like Target. They took those studies and filled their stores with red to get us to spend, spend, spend! In fact, red dishes and dining tools will encourage you to eat more than other colors will. Hmmmm. Maybe I can blame my bumper on my bright red dishware! Also, studies have overwhelmingly shown that both men and women are attracted romantically to people wearing red. There’s a reason I love this color.
So, it’s no surprise to find that color has an impact on us, how we look and how others perceive us. Each of us is born with a color scheme, and the clothes we wear or the cosmetics we apply either enhance this color scheme, turn us into wallflowers or worse. I’m a natural redhead with green eyes, fair skin and high color on my cheeks. With the classic Scots/Irish look, I fall into the “spring” category and can wear all the light and bright gold based colors of that dewy, vibrant season. But I can get away with some of the more golden-based depth of autumn colors as well. Put me in royal purple clothing or blue-based lipstick, however, and you’ll be convinced I need an ambulance, STAT! BUT put a lavender-rose eye shadow on and I look like my eyes are blazing with fire and feistiness.
It’s not an exact science and as I’ve said, many of us bleed over into another category. But each of us has a main set of hues that compliment us more than others. I remember when I switched from a brownish blush to a pink and suddenly everyone was commenting on how healthy and attractive I looked. Spring strikes again.
There are many ways to determine your season, but the basic rule of thumb places pinkish peachy skinned blondes and strawberry blondes with blue or green eyes in the spring category. Our colors are paler, pastels for some of us, with a gold base. Blue based makeup or clothing quickly banks my fire visually and makes me look sallow and colorless, but I can wear some of the duskier greys. Celadon, lavender, pale yellow, golden orange, lighter rusty reds and soft pinks and you’ll be as adored as those daffodils that signal the start of your season.
Deep auburn and brunettes with brown or hazel eyes, and a fair or yellow undertone usually look best in autumn colors. Think of the forest, ablaze with the last light of fall, the glorious golds, browns, rusts and goldenseals. Greys and grey blue can work wonderfully for these folks, and they can wear more of the dusky tones than the rest of us. Our site hostess, Sarah, looks marvelous in some of these greens and russets! Just steer away from bright pale pinks, make sure your blush and lipstick has a touch of brown in the base, with rust reds and deeper peachy colors looking great.
For those of you with crystal blue or brown eyes, fair skin with a bluish base or more dusky skin and dark hair – think Meghan Fox, Beyoncé or Lucy Liu – you ladies fall into the clutches of cool, yet scintillating winter colors which favor glittering jewel-toned brilliance. I have a friend with ivory skin, blue eyes and black hair shot thru with grey. When she puts on bold, blue-based reds, she transforms. With a little black, smoky eyeliner and red lips, she turns into snow white. It’s nothing short of amazing. Asians and women of color, as a rule, fall into the winter category, but can also wear some autumn tones. If the skin has a more golden color to it, some of the oranges and russets work fine. Usually though, winter needs stark, strong colors: black, white, and ruby, sapphire, and emerald.
There are websites aplenty to explore this topic, and many of you probably have a professional consultant or three in your town. Finding out my colors and filling my wardrobe and makeup kit with them has brought me much in the way of confidence and compliments. I remember in my 30s, after figuring this out, I spent an afternoon trying on all of my lipsticks, testing and being brutally honest about how well they worked. I ended up throwing away eight tubes, most of which were barely worn. In the long run, zeroing in on the colors that not only look best, but also make me feel attractive has saved me money. I stick with what works and don’t waste nearly as much product or money.
Gentlemen, this applies to you too. My husband used to take me shopping whenever he needed new shirts and suits for work. I would choose things that would bring a snarl to his lips, but a surprised exclamation when he stood wearing the selection in front of the dressing room mirror. He’s half Asian, and looks marvelous in shades of blue, red and other bold colors.
We are like a large garden, filled with beauty and color, and every one of us is delightful. Adorn yourself in ways that please you, and give ’em all something pretty to admire!
Interesting article Sarah!
– I cannot contribute much insight, personally I don’t spend time with “how I look”, and if the clothing I wear projects anything other than “he’s decently covered up” 🙂
But as an artist of course I know a little about colors. Complementary colors, secondary and tertiary colors, analogous colors, and if you put them together wrongly » you get “mud” (at least in painting you do). – Usually fewer colors is better.
I also read somewhere that people perceive colors differently (thus they have different “favorite” colors); and that other cultures may view colors in a different light. For instance in Japan, a “green” traffic light is called “blue”. And in Asia white is the color of mourning, and red envelopes contain money at New Years (same as in the West » red = buy, buy!)
I wonder if other cultures feel blue? – Germans don’t feel blue in the English sense – when they say they’re blue, the mean they’re drunk! Interesting isn’t it?
Colorful greetings from wet (thus very green) Oregon!
Thanks, HD. I can’t really take credit for this one because it was Anita who wrote it, but I do agree that it was an interesting article. It’s interesting to hear about your experiences as an artist. Of course, you are so right about the cultural thing – you gave some great examples. Naturally, I am familiar with the German perspective;-). I seem to remember that Indians wear red wedding dresses, don’t they? I didn’t know the one about blue traffic lights in Japan though.
Colourful greetings back from Düsseldorf, which is less than colourful right now. More like freaking cold!
In Japan, the “green” lights ARE blue… kind of a greenish blue, but none-the-less, not the green the US uses. Also, the Japanese “red” light tends towards orange, rather than being a “cherry” or pure red.
This is such an interesting discussion. Thanks for your input, Kaytee! When it comes to orange traffic lights, we actually call these amber in the UK. From what I remember, people from the US are not that familiar with this term in this particular context. Once when i drove through a traffic light that had just turned red at the last minute, my German driving instructor called it kirschgrün (which means cherry green). Totally cracked me up!
If I remember correctly, the Japanese yellow light was kind of amber…. The red light was definitely red, though, just not the shade of red we use in the US. Most of the reds they used for other things– clothing, toys, packaging, etc., were also on the orangish side of red. Sort of the lacquer-ware red, or “tomato” red.
The Japanese “green” light color, they call “ao”, which is an old color term that can mean either green or blue or anything in between.
That’s so interesting, Kaytee. How do you know so much about Japan? Did you live there for a while?
we lived in Okinawa from 1987 to 1990– which hubby said was like Hawaii was when he was growing up.
That must have been a very interesting experience, Kaytee. Thanks for sharing!
When I went to Japan the “green” lights looked greenish to me (granted not the same hue as the US lights, but more like the European ones). – Interesting that you say “ao” can be anything between green and blue; I learned something. I thought “midori” was the term for green.
When our Japanese hosts drove us to Tokyo they were referring to their lights as “blue” (and they were speaking English to us). So, it is interesting that the light my wife and I perceived as “green” they termed as “blue”.
And in Germany they all the “orange” or “amber” lights definitely “yellow”. – And if you slip across the intersection when the light just turned “red” and you should have stopped, the Germans call that “dunkelgrün” (meaning dark green).
Inter-cultural things always fascinate me!
I am so sorry Anita, — of course there must be, credit where credit is due!! Very colorful and illuminating article. Thank you!
No worries, HD. I knew that was just an oversight.
Have a great day!
no worries HD, glad you enjoyed it enough to comment. I aim to give the fella’s some tips as well, and i’m thrilled to have you reading. i’m sure you look fabu amongst the evergreens!
cheers to ya!
That was great, Anita!!
I now need to figure out what goes with this deep redish/black with the bright red highlights, blue eyes, and pale skin right now (meds). I am having problems with lipsticks, finding the right colour!
That’s a tough one, isn’t it Wendy! Did you try cool red lipsticks? It sounds like you have cool undertones (i.e. blue rather than orange undertones of skin) and similar hair and eyes to me. I also have pale skin, dark hair and light eyes. Let’s see what Anita says!
hey wendy, from your description, i’d say you fall into the winter category. and it sounds gorgeous! Winters should wear colors that are sharp and clear. White, black, navy blue, red and deep emerald all go well with winter complexions. even bright shocking pink. if you want to go lighter, choose icy tones rather than pastels. try to stay away from too much in the range of beige, orange and gold.
sarah is correct about the lip color. and if you just want some color without being all covered up, try a lip stain. Tarte makes some good stuff, as does Dior and Benefit. Revlon makes some nice reds as well.
You never go wrong with a well done nude lip with gloss, and it works for any color scheme. You can find most of these at Sephora, and they do mail order as well.
play up the high drama and see if you don’t get compliments. don’t let the meds or illness keep you from strutting your stuff!
It’s easy for me to imagine what would look good on Wendy because from how she describes her colouring it is indeed very similar to my own. You have to be careful with pink lippy – as Anita says, a hot pink looks really fab, but a paler pink might make you look washed out. I find that I can wear a lot of very dramatic colours and a dark purple might also look fab if you are feeling brave enough. As AJ says, for our colouring orange undertones are definitely not the way to go. In addition, when you have blue undertones it can be tough to find the right shade of foundation, but Mac has a Mineralize foundations with tones that are based on whether or not you have a cool or warm undertone and that works really well for me because you don’t want to end up looking too orangey, which is often the problem with some of the more traditional shades. Same deal with concealer and powder.
Personally, I love glosses. They make you look well groomed without trying too hard. I got some fab ones from Bath and Body Works when I was last in the US and they are refreshingly minty to boot!
Anita is right – with your colouring, you can dare to look dramatic. Grey eyeshadows might work well too – I used to wear them a lot more, but these days it’s turquoise, green or purple for me. Ruby and Millie, which is available from Boots in the UK, has some beautiful colours as does Bourgeois, which is mainly available in Europe and originally from France. I have also occasionally mixed eyeshadows – half a lid green and the other half turquoise – looks fab if you have the right colouring! Even orange and turquoise can look good, although it might sound a bit dodgy.
Love this article, Anita! I’m definitely an autumn girl. Good to know I’ve always been instinctively attracted to those colors. I love mixing and playing with color when creating though. It’s so interesting how it affects us.
I love colour too, Lori, particularly when it comes to make-up. I recently reorganised my make-up collection and now it’s so much easier to be creative and adventurous and find different colours to wear.
i’m getting a real kick out of the multi-cultural discussion. in china, when the red light is going to turn green, they all screech to a START! at first, we were getting honked at furiously. we didn’t realize that you don’t wait for full green to go. odd thing for us americans. but, it didn’t take long before i was careening around the island with the worst of them!
Me too Anita! This discussion is so fascinating. I forgot that they call an “amber” light yellow here. I’m also happy to have HD contribute so much to the articles – it’s always important to get a guy’s perspective too, especially one who is so au fait with colours as HD is!